I was accepted to an extraordinary group called Leadership Austin. They nurture current and future leaders who serve the public. As part of the 9-month class commitment, we were asked to write a This I Believe essay, which are 300-500 word stories that convey what you believe about the world and what your values are. Learn more about these essays at the This I Believe website.
Allow me to share my essay.
PAINTING WITH PASSION
As a child, I pictured the world as a canvas that God created. Each person had a pencil to draw their paths so they can connect to each other. As we grow older, we may redraw our paths, but we also add layers of color, which are the glasses through which we create reality.
Summer 1984. My closest friend in the 1st grade had been calling the entire summer break, but I didn’t respond. One rainy day, my parents sat me down. They had bad news. Tiffany’s parents called. She had died. She lost her battle with Lukemia.
I'd felt like her protector, her cheerful playmate and her dependable friend. She had a very small stature and I dared other kids to remind her of it. At the end of the school year, I just wanted to be a carefree. Maybe Tiffany had been calling to say hello. Maybe she just wanted to say goodbye. In a split second, I knew that I would never know. I realized that there were no more chances. Time only moves forward.
I was silent and sad. I couldn’t express the words that my heart wanted to convey, so I went to the safest place in my home so I could try to understand. I kneeled by my favorite window and looked up at the sky. I gazed at God’s canvas to grasp what had been painted that day.
What I saw made me angry. The sky was a beautiful blue. A bright rainbow streaked through the clouds. The birds were chirping and other kids were still playing. The world did not stop. Darkness did not fall. Silence did not consume the laughter.
I begged God to please make the world slow down, for just one moment, so we can acknowledge the passing of someone who was rare and special. In the next breath, I realized that someone else, somewhere, was looking at the same sky. Maybe they were happy because they had been given good news or maybe they were just as sad as I was. Still, we both looked at same sky at the same time and it was only our outlook that made us view it differently.
Since then, I take solace in the reminder that without rain, there is no rainbow and without the resolve to take another step forward, today can be no different than yesterday.
Now, I choose to take action although inaction is often an easier route. I choose to live a life without regrets by accepting my mistakes. I strive in every action to become an advocate for the helpless, encouragement for the hapless and enlightenment for the hopeless. My power is now my voice, a voice that strives to convey compassion, resilience and the unrelenting pursuit of common ground with every breath that I take.
Thank you for drawing your path with mine today.